Humana cuts 2019 membership forecast for prescription drug plans

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(Reuters) - Health insurer Humana Inc on Wednesday said it expected a bigger drop in membership for its prescription drug plans in 2019, as it stuck to its pricing plans in an intensely competitive market.

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The company now expects a fall of 750,000 to 800,000 members, compared with 500,000.

The health insurer also reiterated its adjusted earnings forecast of about $14.40 per share for the year 2018. Analysts were expecting a forecast of $14.43 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Humana, however, raised the net membership growth estimate for its individual Medicare Advantage products by 100,000 members to a range of 350,000 to 400,000 members for 2019.

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Individual Medicare Advantage health plans are offered to people older than 65 or those with disabilities.

The improved forecast is due to higher-than-expected sales and better retention of Medicare Advantage members, the company said in a statement.

The company also plans to buy back $750 million of its shares through an accelerated stock repurchase agreement with Goldman Sachs & Co.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra and Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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